Cross-LoC traders meet calls for negative list

Cross-LoC traders meet calls for negative list

12 July 2012
The Daily Excelsior


Jammu: First ever three days Cross-LoC Traders Conference in Srinagar, the summer capital of the State, which was attended by a number of businessmen from both parts of divided State, today unanimously decided to prepare a negative list and submit it to Indian and Pakistani Government seeking to allow trade on all other items at Poonch-Rawlakote and Uri-Muzaffarabad routes. The conference, which was attended by 13 traders from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), ended this evening on a positive note with unanimity on various issued among the traders of Jammu and Kashmir and PoK. 'Traders from both sides were unanimous on preparing a list of tradable items to solve the problems of Trade authorities blocking trucks. We have decided to prepare a negative list and submit it to the Governments of India and Pakistan. The traders of J&K would submit the list to the Indian Government while our counterparts would handover it to Pakistan Government. We will urge both the Governments to publish negative list and allow trade on all other items’’, Dr Mubeen Shah, president, Jammu and Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the Excelsior on telephone from Srinagar at the end of three days conference. Dr Shah said the traders were expecting to hold another Cross-LoC Traders Conference in PoK after Ramzan next month to discuss progress on the issues finalized today. 'The conference has recommended to the Governments of India and Pakistan to allow multiple visit permits to the traders of both sides to facilitate their visit to divided parts of the State, to assess the market and place orders accordingly’’, he added. Pawan Anand, who represented cross-LoC traders of Poonch along with Krishan Singh in the historic conference, said there was unanimity among the traders that communication channels should be made open for the traders to settle their issues immediately and place orders accordingly. 'The communication channels would boost the trade’’, Mr Anand said, adding that increase in number of trucks per days and allowing days on all days instead of present four days a week also figured prominently in the meeting and there was unanimity on these issues. The conference resolved to urge the two Governments to convert barter system of trade into banking pattern by opening bank branches on either side of two trade routes. Our Srinagar correspondent adds Acting Vice Chancellor, University of Kashmir, Professor M A Sofi today said that the trans-LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir that is symbolic activity at present has the potential of a real business activity. While speaking at a seminar on the concluding day of three day Trans LoC trade conference, at the Post Graduate Department of Economics, University of Kashmir, Sofi said enhanced interaction between the traders would help a lot in making the forward movement with respect to cross LoC trade. He said that the cross LoC trade can be changed from the symbolic to a real trading activity is some measures are taken. 'The trade now is symbolic in nature but it has the potential to be converted into a real business activity. The impediments should be removed at the earliest and at the same time there should be more interaction of the traders. This would bring the traders in interface with each other thus leading to full fledged business and economic activities,' said Prof Sofi. During his speech on the theme 'Intra Kashmir trade challenges and opportunities', he advocated the exchange of academics and scientists on both the sides. He stressed upon the need to open more LoC routes so that both the trade and peace gets a chance to prosper in the entire region. He said that confidence building measures announced by the Governments of India and Pakistan should be taken forward so that there is bonhomie and peace. 'The bonds of friendship between India and Pakistan can be strengthened when both the countries move forward while taking advantage of the CBMs announced from time to time. Both the countries have many things in common; these include history, heritage, tradition, culture and values. This is significant and it would help in removing the controversies between the two countries,' said Prof. Sofi. Zulfiqar Abbasi, Former President, Jammu and Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that trade and traders of the Intra-Kashmir trade should be given their due place in the cross LoC trade. Abbasi said the LoC trade should be carried out at full throttle adding that the bottlenecks can be removed only by the seriousness shown by the Indian and Pakistani governments. 'The entire region has a tremendous potential and if the resources are tapped in the right manner there would be lot of progress and prosperity in the region. The Intra-Kashmir trade can also flourish and everybody has to chip in, however, the onus lies on the two governments. Areas like tourism, education, horticulture, forests and environment can also be included for better interaction between the people,' said Abbasi. Dr. Mubeen Shah, President, Jammu and Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that both the Jammu and Kashmir on both the sides of the dividing line should be declared as free economic zone so that there are no trade barriers. Dr. Mubeen said that this would give the much needed fillip to cross LoC trade. 'It is imperative that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is declared as free economic zone so that cross LoC trade is taken to new heights. Sectors like power generation and tourism can be harnessed and this would give a new dimension to the cross LoC trade with people being the ultimate beneficiaries,' said Dr. Mubeen. Professor G. M. Bhat, Head, Department of Economics, University of Kashmir said that people of India and Pakistan as a whole are very upbeat about the cross LoC trade. Prof. Bhat said that cross LoC trade can lead to better relations between India and Pakistan while bringing the people closer. The three day conference was organized by Centre of Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) New Delhi and besides delegates from Jammu and Kashmir, 12 delegates from PoK took part in it.